THE UNIVERSAL KINSHIP OF HUMANKIND by Perry Mann

THE UNIVERSAL KINSHIP OF HUMANKIND

Genesis relates that a god created the earth, enhanced his creation with sky, clouds, stars, sun and moon; and in this setting, he populated it with a variety of species and crowned the creation with Adam and then Eve, who propagated a progeny that has, after centuries, settled on much of the space of the god’s earth. If this narrative is true then all the settlers are kin, having a common ancestor. But it is probably a mystic’s fantasy.

A better supported theory is Charles Darwin’s evolution. He theorized that billions of years ago nature produced a spark of life, a spark that is the ancestor of all life, plant and animal, trees and humans. It happened by a process of mutations and natural selection. The evidence accumulated over the centuries by the scientific community has corroborated Darwin’s theory with such certainty that there is no longer any doubt but that men and women everywhere on this earth today are the descendants of that spark. And thus all are related: the blacks, the reds, the whites, the browns and all mixtures thereof.

“We are all Africans. With these four words, we see a genetic coalescence of the entire human population. We now know that we descended from the inhabitants of Africa who began migrating out of Africa around 60,000 years ago. In this way, it is impossible for us to not all be, in some way, related.

“In ‘Mapping Human History,’ Steve Olson has traced the history of our species over the last 100,000 years. With the aid of a computer scientist, a statistician, and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated that we have to go back in time only 2000 to 5000 years to find someone who could count every person on Earth today a direct descendant.

If we go back a little further, 5000 to 7000 years, every person is a direct ancestor to the over six billion people alive today (unless their line of descendancy died out).

“When you walk through an exhibit of Ancient Egyptian art from the time of the pyramids, everything there was likely created by one of your ancestors—every statue, every hieroglyph, every gold necklace. If there is a mummy lying in the center of the room, that person was almost certainly your ancestor, too. It means when Muslims, Jews, or Christians claim to be the children of Abraham, they are all bound to be right.

“’No matter the language we speak or the color of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forest of North and South America, and who labored to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu,’ Olsen and his colleagues wrote in the journal Nature (2006).”

When one ponders that we are all Africans, he wonders how white supremacists would react upon being informed that their ancestors evolved in the heart of Africa and migrated to Europe and other continents. Aryans from Africa? What blasphemous nonsense. Eskimos from Africa? Jesus an African? Most of the world doesn’t even know of Darwin and Steve Olson and their theories. And if most did, few would believe them.

The world has evolved into a patchwork of tribes, states and nations, all with different languages or dialects and all worshipping one of the four largest religions or one of the 10,000 sects within the four religions. But there have been movements, and the creation of institutions, toward eliminating geographic boundaries, language barriers and religious differences: to wit, the United Nations, the European Union and various national agreements around the globe, attesting to humankind’s dream of One World.

But there are proponents and opponents of One World. President Obama is a One Worlder. He believes in diplomacy with other nations and not saber rattling and war, war, war. His opponents believe he is weak and advocate an Al Capone stance: “You will get further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word.” Or Cheney’s “It’s better to be feared than loved.” To the opponents, proponents say that the preceding president was tough and aggressive and thus alienated most of the major countries of the world.

Fate may have in store either One World or no world for humankind. Thus, it’s time that humans set to work to have it taught everywhere to children that they are all kin, that they all have a common ancestor and that humans are a large family encompassing people from the Arctic to Antarctica, from California to Kamchatka, from Chile to New Zealand. And that it is in the vital interest of every child to see every other child as kin instead of some strange and foreign alien to be feared.

It’s idealistic nonsense even to contemplate One World, when one considers the divisions, divisiveness and hostility that are rank among the world’s people now. How can one imagine that one day East and West will have resolved their political, economic and religious differences? But what can one do but work toward the resolution of their differences? If ever there is to be a Heaven, humankind will have to create it. So teach that all children have the same father and mother if one goes back far enough into the ancestry of human beings. It may help to bind the billions everywhere that have their beginnings in Africa.

The likelihood that there is a Paradise awaiting good humans and a Hell awaiting bad humans is as probable as that the sun stopped for Joshua or the sea parted for Moses. Paradise, if there is to be one, will be built by the species that has dominated the earth and has in its kindred hands the option of building it here or dying in a Hell of its own making.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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